Homily – February 10, 2019

Just a few words on our second reading; Paul is explaining his faith in Jesus to the infant Christian community in the seaport city of Corinth. He wants to get right to the heart of the matter and so he tells them of what he knows in his heart after his meeting with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. This is of first importance, that Christ died for our sins; he was buried and was raised from the dead. Paul writes in this letter, ‘if Christ be not raised then we are still in our sins, nothing has changed in our relationship with God. Paul insisted Christ has been raised, the Father has accepted his sacrifice on the cross and we are invited into a life giving relationship with God. For Paul and for each one of us this must be of ‘first importance’ that Christ died for our sins.’

We celebrate this awesome truth at this Mass, this sacrament of the Eucharist. A sacrament is a sign of something that speaks beyond itself. The simple water of baptism speaks of the living waters of God’s grace poured into our hearts as our Baptism. The oils used in Baptism, Confirmation, the Sacrament of the Sick and Ordination are signs of the healing, strengthening and consecration that come to us in these sacraments. The power of the keys tells of the ability of the Church to bind or let loose the sins of our lives.

At every Mass we place the sign of death – separated body and blood and we renew the sacrifice of Christ’s life giving death on Calvary. After the words of consecration we say; when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death O Lord until you come again.’ Calvary is made present, right here, right now.This is of first importance. This is a constant reminder of how loved we are by God, no matter what our faults and failings. This a constant reminder of the wonder that God so love us God sent his Son into our world, into our lives, not to condemn us but to embrace us, to heal us. This is of first importance.

The gospel Paul preached rests upon the recognition that we mere humans stand in need of salvation and that we are powerless to do this for ourselves. What is more, we are sinners who need to be healed of our moral wounds. This, we believe in faith, has been done in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and promises us a world beyond our earth and our earthly plans.

There was a prayer we used to say that began with the words, ’for how many ages have you hung upon your cross and still we pass you by and regard you not.’ Have we reduced the crucifix to a trinket? Do we look at a crucifix and are numb to the suffering, the humiliation and the degradation Christ endured on that cross? Do we presume on the love the crucified Christ has for each one of us? Do we forget that the love of Christ crucified for you, for me, demands a love for him in return?

Are these personal questions of first importance to us as we reflect on our own personal relationship with Christ?

The reason our Passionist community exists in the church is to keep reminding ourselves and the people to whom we minister in our parishes, retreat houses and mission of what is or most importance; that Christ died for our sins and brought us back into life with God. The motto of the Passionist community is, ‘may the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts.’

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist may we pray for ourselves and for each other that we never forget what is of first importance; Christ died for our sins. A question we might ask of ourselves is what is my response to Christ’s great act of love? Is this truth of first importance to me? Do I stop to thank him? Do I trust in Christ’s love for me? Do I try to love others as Christ as loved me?

Something to think about.